Principal Investigator

Yi-Rong Peng, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology

Dr Peng is a neuroscientist whose research focuses on large-scale transcriptomic profiling of retinal cells in healthy and pathological conditions to understand human vision and provide insights for the study of ocular diseases. She joined the Jules Stein Eye Institute as an assistant professor in January 2020. Dr. Peng received her PhD in neurobiology from the Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.

Her doctoral research examined the role of functional interactions between inhibitory and excitatory synapses that maintain the stability of neural networks. She then joined the laboratory of Dr. Joshua Sanes at Harvard University. In her postdoctoral work, she utilized high throughput single-cell transcriptomic methods to reveal molecular profiles of the retina and uncover key transcriptional factors that control the specification of retinal cell types.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Lin Zhang, Ph.D.

Lin is a bioinformatician who is interested to apply bioinformatic tools to uncover the molecular underpinning of the formation of retinal circuits and provide the pathogenic understanding of retinal diseases. Her research involves analysis of genomic and transcriptomic datasets, data mining, computational modeling of large-scale datasets, and molecular and cellular biology. She joined the Peng Laboratory in October 2020. Lin received her PhD from Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Michelmore lab, Genome Center, University of California, Davis.

Sophie Skarlatou, Ph.D.

Sophie is a developmental neuroscientist with a strong interest in understanding the molecular and mechanistic underpinnings of neural circuit assembly and function. Her goal is to generate knowledge that will help us design better therapeutic strategies for so far untreatable conditions. She obtained my PhD from Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany, where she studied the development of spinal locomotor circuits. In Dr. Peng’s lab, which she joined in May 2021, She wants to use different omic approaches to elucidate retinal circuit and synapse formation. In her free time she enjoy exploring the city, taking photos and baking.

Undergraduate Researchers

Raneesh Ramarapu

Raneesh joined the Peng Lab in February 2020. He graduated in Spring 2021 with Summa Cum Laude, majoring in MIMG and EBE. He is interested in Stem Cell, Reproductive and Development biology with a focus in veterinary medicine. His work in the Peng Lab involves work in bioinformatics of transcriptomic (single cell) analyses, data visualization and wet lab validation of genetic expression using Fluorescent in situ Hybridization. He is also working on CRISPR constructs associated with the Peng Lab stem cell and retinal organoid research. He will be joining the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in Fall 2021. In his free time, Raneesh enjoys cooking, dancing, fire-breathing and binge-watching Indian movies. 

Brian Chen

Brian graduated with from UCLA with a degree in biochemistry student in Spring 2021. He is interested in exploring a career in clinical research and healthcare. Having explored other fields including ecological restoration and computational chemistry labs at UCSB, he soon found his niche in a position with the Peng Lab, where he enjoys learning more about retinal pathways that can be used to study various ocular diseases. In his free time, he likes to spend his time playing pick-up basketball at the rec cen (which hopefully opens soon) as well as explore the venues of the city of Los Angeles.

Lab Assistant

Ruchen Cai

Lab Alumni

Tongzhou Xu, Ph.D.

Tongzhou was a part of the Peng Lab Family as a Visiting Postodoctoral Scholar from Fall 2020 to Winter 2021. He actively worked on Proteomics and CRISPR construct/ Plasmid manipulation.